Dr. Linda Bennett Begins Last Year at USI

When class starts later this week at the University of Southern Indiana, it’ll be the last “first day” for the president of the school, Dr. Linda Bennett.

After 9 years as president and 15 at the school, she only has one more. Bennett announced her retirement Tuesday.

Students are back in class later this week to mark the beginning of the end. But Bennett is right where she wants to be.

“We’re in my favorite time of an academic year,” she says, “when students come back, it’s one of the most energizing times of the year. The only thing that tops it is commencement.”

When students walk the stage after 2 more semesters, Dr. Bennett will be walking out too. “I’ve learned so much from the people around and from the students as well,” she says.

The University built new business, engineering, and performance centers. She led the effort to establish the school’s first strategic plan to admit more students likely to succeed at four-year universities.

Bennett says freshmen and graduate enrollment is up this year, despite previous years of decline at schools across the Midwest. “We’re really on a good path,” she says.

Saying goodbye may be hard, but Bennett has no regrets heading in to this victory lap. She will remain president until June next year. The board of trustees will start looking for a new president in September.

“If you stay strong in your community you’ll be able to face most challenges that come now,” she says, “people will help lead you through.”

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